Apple against Bercy: all about the trial that begins today

After being sued by Bruno Le Maire in 2018, the American giant Apple will have to explain itself today, Friday September 23, during a hearing at the Paris Commercial Court. The Minister of the Economy accuses the apple brand of abusive commercial practices, particularly vis-à-vis French start-ups.

After Google in March 2022, it is now up to Apple to face French justice. This Friday, September 23 opens the trial of the apple brand. The American Tech giant is indeed accused by the Ministry of the Economy of having imposed abusive contractual conditions on developers of mobile applications in its App Store.

In March 2018, in full tension with the United States of Donald Trump who wanted to tax imports of steel and aluminum, Bruno Le Maire had then taken the decision to assign the brands Apple and Google before the commercial court of Paris.

“I will sue Google and Apple for abusive business practices because I believe that Google and Apple, as powerful as they are, should not treat our start-ups and developers the way they do today. today”, had then castigated the tenant of Bercy in March 2018 on RTL.

“This will earn them a penalty amounting to millions of euros,” he said.

For the Minister of the Economy, the practices of American giants such as Apple or Google are “unacceptable” and harm the economy.

“When developers want to develop their application, sell it to Google or Apple, they are imposed tariffs. Google and Apple recover the data, Google and Apple can unilaterally modify the contracts with the developers, all that is unacceptable it is not the economy that we want, ”he denounced.

Google sentenced to two million euros

For its part, Google was sentenced on March 28 to a “civil fine of two million euros” by the Paris Commercial Court in the context of this same complaint filed by Bruno Le Maire.

According to the judgment consulted by Agence France-Presse, Google should modify 7 clauses of its distribution contract which “translate the submission or attempt to submit application developers to obligations creating a significant imbalance in the rights and obligations of parts”.

One of these clauses notably required developers to set the prices of their applications within a price range defined by Google.

“It is not a question of a sanction with regard to competition law or abuse of a dominant position, but on what are called restrictive practices resulting from the commercial code and the civil code”, a legislation which applies regardless of the market share of the players, deciphered for AFP Charlotte Dubuisson, associate lawyer at the firm Linklaters.

The financial penalty was therefore lower compared to, for example, the fines of 2.4 and 4.3 billion euros imposed in recent years on Google by the European Commission for practices concerning the market of price comparison services and its Android operating system (both under appeal), but “it shows that Google is on all fronts”, continued the lawyer.

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